Cardinal John Tong Hon, the apostolic administrator of Hong Kong, officiated at the opening ceremony of a July 18 charity television show to raise funds to help poor people suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Sunday Examiner)
The Catholic Church's charity group in Hong Kong projects to raise some US$2 million through a charity television show to provide tailor-made services to poor people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Caritas Hong Kong has already collected more than $1 million a fortnight after it held the show on July 18, according to the Sunday Examiner, the official publication of Hong Kong Diocese.
The television show, an annual event that started in 1996, was organized by the Friends of Caritas. It was telecast on a local channel.
More than just a fundraising program, "it is an effective platform through which the public can better understand the diverse services provided by Caritas over the past 67 years," the publication said.
The charity plans to use the funds to provide used computers for poor students to use in online classes and teach people to make cloth face masks that are in short supply.
The funds will also be used to conduct vision checks for children living in subdivided flats as they may not have enough space or proper light for reading while trapped at home, the Sunday Examiner said on its website.
Father Joseph Yim Tak-lung, chief executive of Caritas Hong Kong, made an online appeal before the show and sought generous donations from the public.
Cardinal John Tong Hon, the apostolic administrator of Hong Kong, officiated at a lighting ceremony with Peter Leung Ming-hym, chairperson of the 2020 Caritas Fundraising Committee.
Cardinal Tong, in a message on July 31, said the pandemic has worsened in the city. "The doctors, nurses and staff working in hospitals, as well as the sick and their families, are all suffering serious hardship," he said.
Many companies are either closing or downsizing "because business is bad. Both owners and staff face a drop in salary. Families have barely enough to live on," he said about the city-state functioning under Chinese administration.
"Many workers are laid off. Unemployment is on the rise. It is hoped that the government will embrace the plight of the unemployed and start a system of unemployment insurance in order to lessen their worries," the cardinal said.
The Catholic leader said the city's administration "has further tightened restrictions to combat the coronavirus, and this brings a lot of discomfort to our daily lives."
Hong Kong has implemented stricter restrictions since July 29 after Covid-19 cases began to spiral in the third wave of pandemic infections.
The administration banned dining out and gatherings of more than two people to contain the pandemic's spread after 145 new cases were reported on July 27, Hong Kong's highest single-day spike.
"We hope the government will listen to the advice of experts and the voices of the citizens. We also hope that everyone will continue to be patient and be united to overcome this pandemic," Cardinal Tong said.
Several secular groups are supporting the Church's initiative to help the pandemic-affected poor. They include the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, AMTD Foundation and SaSa Beautiful Charity Fund.
The Lo Siu Tong Charity Fund contributed a HK$10 million matching donation, meaning the fund will donate one dollar for every two dollars raised from the public, which is valid for every donation until September.
The organization said as of July 27 it had received donations amounting to HK$8.3 million.
"Together with donations pledged and the matching fund, it is anticipated that the total funds raised during and after the show will reach at least HK$15 million," said the church publication.